Spring is just around the corner, and that means sneezing isn’t far behind. As the trees start to blossom and the grass begins to grow, many people start suffering from nasal congestion, a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, as well as fatigue and irritability.
In fact, the more mild the winter, the earlier the trees start to pollinate, making the allergy season last even longer. Taking allergy medication may help, but it can also leave you with a dry mouth, drowsiness and dizziness.
“I experience allergies are a threshold phenomenon,” explains Jerry Gore, MD, head of the Center for Holistic Medicine and author of the book Holistic Medicine: Physical Health, Peace of Mind and Clarity of Consciousness. “You can be allergic to pollen, dust, mold, toxins and a number of other things and not notice it until the allergens reach a certain threshold and your body begins to become symptomatic.”
And luckily, there are lots of ways to keep yourself symptom-free at high risk times that don’t involve any medication. Here are five tips for natural ways to fight allergies.
- Reduce Your Kapha
According to Ayurvedic medicine, Kapha is a combination of the elements of water and earth, which means mucus. Therefore, in our bodies, too much Kapha causes too much mucus production and causes upper respiratory infections, asthma, sinusitis and more. Dairy is one of the chief culprits of causing too much Kapha, but others are wheat, meat, and sweets. Instead, opt for foods that contain Pita (the element of fire) or Vata (the element of air and space), such as spicy foods or bitter foods. Here are some ways to decrease Kapha and increase Pita/Vata:Eat less:
- Peanut butter
- Cooked vegetables
- Heavy foods
- Salty foods
- Sour foods
- Green apples or pears
- Dried fruits
- Raw vegetables and salads
- Bitter foods, such as romaine lettuce, endive and other leafy greens
- Pungent foods, such as cayenne, chili pepper, garlic and onions
- Astringent foods, such as beans, cauliflower and tumeric
- Focus on Your Digestive Health
Your gut health can also affect your tolerance to allergens. If you suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome, you have a more porous lining in your intestinal wall that allows molecules or toxins to seep into your blood stream. “When molecules leak through into your circulatory system, your body thinks it’s something to fight,” Dr. Gore explains, which causes your body to attack those molecules and increase inflammation, which misdirects your immune system and causes more allergy symptoms.To improve your gut health, there are tests you can take to measure your chances for intestinal permeability, levels of good and bad bacteria (also known as your microbiome), inflammation, and digestive functioning in general. Healing the gut involves finding out what is wrong and correcting the problem, including eliminating certain foods, working with an anti-inflammatory diet, using supplements to help the gut wall heal, and adding probiotics to help healing and enhancing the immune system.(If you’re interested in taking a comprehensive GI test and finding out more about your gut health, contact Katie Bogaard at the Center for Holistic Medicine.)
- Reduce Your Stress
You may be perfectly fine with the pollen or other allergens in the air if you’re immune system is working well. But add a little stress to the situation and suddenly you may become stuffed up and sneezy.“Stress would put you over the threshold,” Dr. Gore explains. “If I’m eating right and not stressed, I might get away with longer hours being around allergens before my eyes get swollen.”To reduce your chances of an allergic flare up, Dr. Gore recommends you keep your stress under control with breathing exercises, emotional regulation, counseling in times of stress, yoga, exercise and meditation.
- Use a Neti Pot
If you need more immediate relief for your stuffy nose, Katie Bogaard, a Naturopathic practitioner at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says using a neti pot is the way to go. Just add about ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt or about ½ a teaspoon of kosher salt to 8 ounces of skin-temperature filtered water until the salt is dissolved. Then lean over the sink and pour the mixture into one of your nasal passages until it comes out the other side (making sure to breathe through your mouth. “It really helps clear and drain everything out,” Bogaard says.
- Try a Natural Antihistamine or Homeopathic Nasal Spray
For other forms of quick relief, Bogaard recommends you try a natural antihistamine, such as D-Hist, which is made from a blend of flavonoids, antioxidants, proteolytic enzymes and botanicals designed to help clear your nasal and sinus passages. Or you can go with a homeopathic nasal spray, such as Clearlife Nasal Spray or ReBoost, both made by MediNatura.